Saturday, May 15, 2010

Potluck 3/11: Molten Melty Goodness

Madison brought us an unusually early spring this year. The snow was melting in March (a month earlier than usual), and the sun shone surprisingly often. Melting snow made me thinking of melty foods, and, let's face it, even a "warm" spring can be quite chilly, and the comfort of melty cheese or molten chocolate sounded wonderful. This early-March potluck was full of delicious foods, whether melty, molten, or just melt-in-your-mouth.

Gabriel contributed the ultimate melted food: cheese fondue. Ok, so we kind of cheated and picked it up in a package from Trader Joe's, but you would never be able to tell. This "Swiss Beer Fondue" tasted like a good blend of swiss and gruyère, and had the perfect texture after it was heated in a pot on the stovetop. We then moved it to the table and served it with sliced veggies, chunks of bread, and a cut up apple. Perfection.

In the melt-in-your mouth category (and in the "hooray it's spring and some cooking can occur outdoors" category), Carlos brought his signature black bean burgers, that he cooked on the grill, topped with melty cheese, and served to the ravenous crowds. And you better believe that I'm including a recipe at the end of this post...

But that's not all! For dessert, Kristin brought cinnamon rolls, with frosting oozing over their tops, and I made mini molten chocolate cakes. The big kicker? They're gluten free! And the weirdest ingredient in them is corn starch, which really isn't that weird. Oh, and also they're pretty delicious. Especially topped with whipped cream. Actually the original recipe, from Jacques Pepin, includes an apricot cognac sauce. I haven't tried that yet, but I'll include it in the recipe at the end anyway - you'll have to let me know how it is if you try it out!

Carlos's Fridge Black Bean Burgers

Ingredients (approximate amounts)
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 small onion (finely chopped or grated)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 eggs
at least 1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup sesame seeds
a small handful of oats (optional)
minced parsley and sage
salt and pepper
1/4 cup shredded parmesan or cheddar

1. Preheat a grill to medium (this could also be done, and might be easier on a grill pan)
2. Mash all of the ingredients together in a bowl. (Or mix in a food processor, pulsing a few times, so the mixture is not entirely uniform). The mixture should stay together. If it is too wet, add more wheat germ or oatmeal.
3. Form patties just smaller than a fist. You're looking for something closer to a slightly flattened sphere than a disc.
4. Grill those patties! Grill on one side until the side is set enough that you can lift it with a spatula without it falling apart. Flip it, and grill until the other side is equally set.
5. Enjoy with some cheddar cheese and salsa or ketchup.

Chocolate Cake & Apricot Cognac Sauce
from Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food, My Way,
...and passed to me by my awesome officemate, Bonnie

8 oz (225 grams) bittersweet chocolate
8 tbsp (1 stick or 110 grams) butter
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
½ cup apricot jam
2 tbsp warm water
2 tbsp cognac

1. heat oven to 350 degrees
2. over a bain marie, melt chocolate, butter, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla. whisk until smooth.
3. add eggs and yolks and whisk again until smooth
4. pour into individual ramekins or muffin tins which have been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray
5. bake for 8 minutes (they may not look done, but seriously, take them out after 8 minutes!)
6. let them cool to room temperature (even though you will want to eat them right away)
7. combine jam, water and cognac until smooth
8. flip dessert over onto plate and top with sauce
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